Thursday, January 5, 2017

Even the Worlds of Shipping and Logistics are Under Threat in the UK

Law Change Threatens to Emasculate Press in All Forms
Shipping News Feature
UK – The Handy Shipping Guide rarely strays too far ‘off piste’ with our daily musings entirely devoted to matters concerned with shipping and logistics. Now however we are faced with a situation which affects the everyday lives of British citizens who value freedom of speech. The government is currently running a consultation as to the future of the free press and it is vital that everybody who values this has their say, something which, as we shall explain, is the work of a moment.

The consultation concerns the implementation of Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. If passed into law this will mean that any publisher will have to fund not only their own defence should they offend anyone, but also pay for their opponents costs, even if they win the case. Despite evidencing that what is printed is wholly true and in the public interest this could end up bankrupting an innocent operation dedicated to telling the truth.

Now these potential draconian consequences have come about because of the actions of some of the British ‘gutter press’. The fight to have the press gagged has been led and financed by Mr Max Moseley, who, it must be said was treated most shabbily by certain sections of the media. What with the shame of the ‘phone hacking enquiries, still likely to make headlines of their own for some time to come, the general ire with the press is understandable.

This change in the law however is a step too far, it will mean that any well financed opponent can terrify any section of the press into submission and indeed there is much talk of local newspapers simply ceasing publication for fear of prosecution. Mr Moseley’s alternative for press control, Impress, a regulator supported by Royal Charter, is little more than a joke with few serious publications amongst its members and no national newspapers having signed up.

What has also hindered the case for the national press is the public view of IPSO, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, which has often failed to cover itself in glory when facing criticism of one of its members, however these matters obscure the truth of what will happen if Section 40 is implemented.

The Handy Shipping Guide has been around in one form or another since 1887 and in recent times has been threatened, both through the Courts and in one case by physical assault, for printing the absolute truth. It is our unfortunate duty to uncover the seamy side of the freight industry, the polluters, the abusers of staff etc. as well as promote the thousands of worthy companies and individuals who keep the world supplied with its every need. On both those occasions we stood our ground, should we do so again if the law changes, it might well mean the end, not only for the publication, but for the writers and directors as well.

If the motion to gag the press succeeds any publisher, whether in print or online, whether daily national newspaper or occasional blogger, will face the possibility that they could lose everything just for printing a truth which someone with sufficient resources to raise a prosecution found unpalatable.

If you feel, as we do, that this is a situation which should not be allowed please take the time to click on this link and sign the petition. If you feel really strongly contact your MP here and write to express your views and ask them for their support.